Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 450: DWM 1895 Rifle, 2nd Boer War Trophy w/Silver Plate Inscription

Auction Date: September 7, 2018

Historic Orange Free State Contract DWM Model 1895 Bolt Action Rifle, with Silver Plate Inscribed to Thomas David Pilcher, British Commander of the Second Boer War and Major-General at the Battle of the Somme

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $3,500 - $5,500

Historic Orange Free State Contract DWM Model 1895 Bolt Action Rifle, with Silver Plate Inscribed to Thomas David Pilcher, British Commander of the Second Boer War and Major-General at the Battle of the Somme

Manufacturer: Mauser
Model: 1895
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 7 mm
Barrel: 29 inch round
Finish: blue
Grip:
Stock: hardwood
Item Views: 1928
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 187
Class: Antique
Description:

Manufactured in Germany, this early DWM rifle bears several marks of interest; on the receiver, bolt and barrel are a set of London Proof House markings ("crown/GP" on the receiver and bolt handle, nitro/tonnage marks on barrel), and the receiver and stock marked "O.V.S." (Oranje-Vrystaat, or Orange Free State) above the matching serial numbers. Finally, the right side of the buttstock bears a prominent silver plate, engraved with a feathered border and scroll flourishes around "Presented to/Lt.Col. T.D. Pilcher, JMJ/Battle of Sunnyside/1-1-1900 C Coy, RCR". Research shows the 'Battle of Sunnyside' as an engagement during the Second Boer War, where Lieutenant-Colonel (later Major-General) Thomas D. Pilcher led a mixed command of British, Canadian and Australian troops against Boer forces early in the British offensive. In total, this suggests a field-captured war trophy, which was refitted as a presentation piece and taken home to Britain. Pilcher was first assigned to Africa in the 1890s, and would earn a number of promotions and be knighted a Companion of the Order of the Bath for his actions in the Second Boer War. Afterwards his career was limited by his writing, having published several texts advocating serious reforms to the British military (such as more indirect fire from concealment by artillery and heavier use and concentration of machine guns), which were dismissed as being too German. Assigned to the field for World War I, Pilcher skated dangerously close to dismissal for about a year, with observers noting that the modern conflict was "too brutal" for him. The final straw was the Battle of the Somme, when on July 7th he refused to commit his full force to what he saw as a doomed maneuver, sending a token sum of men as a sacrifice to feign compliance. He was promptly sacked as division commander, never held a field command again, and retired from the Army in 1919. Following the war he dabbled in politics, with a failed run for the Commons and slight dabbling with fascism before his death in 1928. Fitted with blade front and ladder rear sights, matching numbers on the receiver, floorplate, trigger guard, stock, and bolt, a black leather sling and a flat buttplate.

Rating Definition:

Fine with 60% of the original blue finish, showing areas of brown and gray patina, bright edge wear, and light scattered spotting and handling marks. The stock is a bit rough, showing the sort of wear and tear one would expect of a field-carried brush-fighting rifle, with a number of dents and scuffs, having been cleaned up a bit in the vicinity of the plate, which shows a lightly aged patina. Mechanically excellent.



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